Oyster Boat Terror

As the last example of an open-decked working sail boat from Emsworth’s Oyster industry, Terror’s past is a long one.

Oyster Boat Terror

Terror’s history is quite chequered. Originally built by Foster’s Boatyard in Emsworth in about 1890, to support the 20 or so large ketches that dredged for the Oysters, boats like Terror, (known as Lighters) would collect the catch from the larger Oyster merchants’ vessels and transport them back to the shore. From there the Oysters went straight to the busy fish markets in London.

About 100,000 Oysters were shipped to the London markets each week.

Oyster Boat Terror

At times when Terror wasn’t needed to transport Oysters, she would be filled with sand and gravel dredged from the Winner Bank. The sand and gravel would later be used for building work around the Harbour villages.

In the early 1900s a newly laid sewage system discharged sewage directly into the Harbour. As a result the Oysters became infected. In December 1902 at a mayoral banquet in Winchester, the Dean of Winchester and two others contracted typhoid and died shortly afterwards.

The Oyster industry in Emsworth collapsed overnight.

Oyster Boat Terror

Left uncared for and in decay for years, Terror was almost lost. She had been stored at different places when finally with lottery funding, her restoration was given the go-ahead. Dolphin Quay Boatyard in Emsworth carried out the restoration over a two-year period. She was lovingly and carefully rebuilt by them and in September 2006, Terror was re-launched and blessed at a ceremony filled with pomp and ceremony.

Some of Terror’s timbers left at the end of the restoration were donated and used in the build of the iconic 30ft  yacht, Collective Spirit, for the remarkable Boat Project in 2011.

Today, although Terror is not part of the new working Oyster trade in Chichester Harbour, she is seen as the industry’s flagship.

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